Covers Corner: “Irreplaceable” by Sleigh Bells

I’m going to open this post by acknowledging that yes, Beyoncé is really hard to replicate. She’s got her own distinct sound, she’s a titan of the industry, and when Lemonade dropped, none of us were ever the same. So with all that said, let’s discuss how a noise pop duo took on one of her biggest hits.

Sleigh Bells is probably best known for “Rill Rill,” which I’ll write about in more depth for a later Throwback Thursday. It established their sound as amp-heavy and electric. Lead singer Alexis Krauss has a delicate voice that often gets lost in the mix. With their cover of “Irreplaceable,” it’s brought out to shine. And indeed, here it almost seems to float. Derek Miller has traded his electric guitar for an acoustic one, which allows Krauss’s vocals to slide smoothly, front and center. Neat little finger snaps provide the backing beat. It’s a subtle touch that supports the strumming guitar in a nice way.

Krauss doesn’t attempt any vocal runs; she seems aware that that’s Beyoncé’s purview. Instead, she and Miller are exploring their own interpretation of the song. In their hands, it becomes softer, coffeehouse-esque. That’s surprising for fans of, say, “Infinity Guitars” or “Crown on the Ground,” two other big songs from their debut Treats, where “Rill Rill” also appears. I think it’s fun when bands explore something new, both in terms of a cover and in terms of what they can do sonically. When the two come together, it’s particularly refreshing.

Have a listen: